Palm-Sized Soft Octopus Robot Farts Its Way into Your Heart

KS TechnologyPeople creating robots that resemble nature is nothing new, but engineers at Harvard University have made something spectacular – a completely soft bodied Octobot with zero batteries or wires that uses gas (and farts) to move. 🐙

robopus

Scientists made this adorable tiny bot by pouring silicone gels of varying stiffness into an octopus mold. A 3D printer finishes the legs. At its heart is a tiny circuit board like controller which ultimately controls its movements.

Wanna hear the fun part? The Octobot moves completely on its own, powered by gas. The controller at the bot’s center shunts liquid hydrogen peroxide through platinum reaction chambers in the legs, turning the fluid fuel into gas. The gas flows through the ‘tentacles’ and inflates the compartments inside the eight limbs.

The blueprint for this soft, autonomous robot was published in the journal Nature.

Figure 1: Fully soft, autonomous robot assembly - Nature
Figure 1: Fully soft, autonomous robot assembly – Nature

All that gas has to go somewhere! The team gave the robot small orifices so the gas has a place to escape. This makes sure the Octobot doesn’t burst leaving an ugly mess.

Now, I don’t want you thinking this little soft robot is running around the lab farting its way into the history books. According to the BBC, the circuit sets up an alternating movement, inflating four limbs at a time. So it is more of a twitching movement than a walking demonstration. But still very cool!

This exciting technology could pave the way toward more effective soft robots that could be used in search and rescue, exploration and to more safely interact with the fleshy world of humans.


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Palm-Sized Soft Octopus Robot Farts Its Way into Your Heart

#CephalopodWeek Top Reads, Videos and Incredible Images

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterIt’s time to bid farewell to my favorite time of the year – #CephalopodWeek. For 7 days, scientists and cephalopod enthusiasts honor our smart, inky, tentacle waving friends.

I’ve selected a few awesome must-read articles and must-see videos from Cephalopod Week 2016 for you to enjoy! 🐙


Eight (or More) Reasons to be Amazed by the Octopus – Science Friday

Science Friday 1

Video: Colorful Cephalopods – CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Cal Academy

Cephalopod Week Returns – American Museum of Natural History

AMNH

Photos: Cephalopod Awareness – Biodiversity Heritage Library

Flickr

Video: Video: Run, Octopus, Run! – Science Friday

Science Friday 2 Run

We’re Not Squidding Around – Cephalopod Week Is Sure to Suck You In – KQED

KQED

This #CephalopodWeek infographic shows everything you should know about squids – The Daily Dot

Daily Dot

Vampire squid take mommy breaks – Science News

Science News

Video: I, Octopus – Science Friday

Science Friday 3 I, Octopus

Video: Pelagic parenting: A deep-sea squid broods its eggs – Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium


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#CephalopodWeek Top Reads, Videos and Incredible Images

New Casper Look-a-like Octopod Spooks NOAA Scientists from the Deep

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterThe first operational dive of Okeanos Explorer’s 2016 season got off to a frightful start. At the end of February, NOAA’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer dove 2 1/2 miles underwater to collect geological samples near Hawaii. While surveying the area, scientists were shocked to see a wispy white ghost-like octopod dance into view.

The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod.

According to NOAA, deep-sea octopods are easily separated into two distinct groups:

  • (1) the cirrate, or finned, octopods (also known as “dumbo” octopods), characterized by fins on the sides of their bodies and fingerlike cirri associated with the suckers on their arms
  • (2) incirrate octopods, which lack both fins and cirri and are similar in appearance to common shallow-water Octopus
This ghostlike octopod is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.
This ghostlike octopod is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.

The octopod spotted by the ROV was a member of the second group, the incirrates. What makes this species unusual is that it lacks pigment cells called chromatophores, giving it its spooky appearance, and it isn’t very ‘muscular.’ Casper the wimpy ghost! đŸ‘»

The haunting image below captures the moment the unique cephalopod appeared from the deep. Scientist believe it is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus.

Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.

Want more awesome cephalopod stories to share with your friends? 🐙

New Casper Look-a-like Octopod Spooks NOAA Scientists from the Deep

This Cute Pac-Man Ghost Octopus Needs a Name: Scientist Suggests ‘Adorabilis’

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterThis adorable seven-inch, deep sea octopus is a species rarely seen by humans. In fact, very little is known about the life history of these animals. They are small, fragile, and gelatinous, with relatively large eyes. The funny thing is they don’t have a name yet!

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 1.44.26 PM
(Left) Pac-Man Ghosts, (Center) flapjack octopus, (Right) Pearl from Finding Nemo

Stephanie Bush, a postdoctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is researching this cartoony creature and has the difficult task of finding it an appropriate name. Until they know what to formally call it, researchers are simply referring to it as the “flapjack octopus,” which belongs with its cousins in the Opisthoteuthis family.

“I was thinking about what my options are [for naming it], and I wanted it to be something indicative of the characteristic of the species. Since they’re so cute, I thought I could name it the Opistoteuthis adorabilis,” Bush told ABC News.

They have a well defined web just under their tentacles that allows them to parachute around the water. The fins above their eyes helps them steer!

In their exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, these un-described cephalopods live in a tank specially designed to imitate the cold, low-oxygen environment of their deep-sea habitat.

The image below shows the flapjack octopus (Opisthoteuthis sp.) on exhibit. Researchers use a red light to display this species because the octopus can’t see red light. This makes it think it’s safe in the darkness of the deep sea, just like its natural habitat.

Researchers use a red light to display this species. Since the octopus can’t see red light, it thinks it’s in the darkness of the deep sea, its natural environment. IMAGE: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Researchers use a red light to display this species. Since the octopus can’t see red light, it thinks it’s in the darkness of the deep sea, its natural environment. IMAGE: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bush and her MBARI team collected about 15 specimens last year using a remotely-operated vehicle along Monterey Canyon in the eastern Pacific. Those little guys now live at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

For more information about the flapjack octopus check out this awesome ‘Science Friday’ video! 🐙

This Cute Pac-Man Ghost Octopus Needs a Name: Scientist Suggests ‘Adorabilis’

Rambo the Octopus Knows How to Snap Your Picture – as New Research Reveals How These Creatures Move

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterHer name is Rambo, she lives in New Zealand, she takes pictures, and, oh yeah… she is an octopus! In a new viral video released by Sony, you can see Rambo in action, snapping pics of excited guests in exchange for treats – using Sony’s underwater Cyber Shot TX30 camera.

Rambo, who was given the name based on the amount of destruction she caused the first few camera set-ups, lives at the Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland. Rambo may be the world’s first professional ‘octographer,’ given the fact each photo costs $1.50 a pop!

The truth is, octopuses are highly intelligent. They open jars, make daring escapes from their tanks, and even dismantle high tech equipment! Click here to watch an octopus break apart a camera.

Mark Vette, Rambo’s trainer, told Cult of Mac, “When we first tried to get her to take a photo, it only took three attempts for her to understand the process. That’s faster than a dog… Actually, it’s faster than a human in some instances.”

Octopuses learn quickly and are highly motivated by food. Rambo was first taught to respond to a buzzer – which meant snack time. Then Vette had to teach her the buzzer meant to take a picture, which resulted in food.

Vette told NPR the hard part wasn’t training Rambo to shoot pictures; the hard part was creating an underwater set-up for the tank that the curious cephalopod wouldn’t destroy.

He told NPR, “She took the camera, ripped it off its hinges, ripped it off everything, smashed it to bits and spat it out.” Hence the name Rambo 🙂

 

How Does the Octopus Seamlessly Co-ordinate Its Eight Arms?

Good thing octopuses don’t dance, because according to a new study, they have no rhythm.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem used high speed cameras to film octopuses moving around their tank – then analyzed the footage frame-by-frame. What they discovered surprised them.

Scientists found that the octopus moves by shortening and elongating its arms, which creates a pushing thrust. The animal does not move by bending or pulling its arms, as previously thought.

Octopuses have bilateral body symmetry, which means their left side is a mirror image of their right. Most bilateral-symmetric animals face forward when they are moving (except the crab, which walks sideways.) But, octopuses can move in ANY direction without needing to turn their bodies. They just push off a surface and propel themselves wherever they’d like.

“So the octopus only has to decide which arm to use for the pushing – it doesn’t need to decide which direction this arm will push,” explained Dr Levy. “[It has] found a very simple solution to a potentially complicated problem – it just has to pick which arm to recruit.”

While, the octopus clearly has some rad moves, researchers have not been able to spot a pattern, or rhythm to their movement. Levy believes there either is no pattern to discover, or their movement is too complicated for the studies they conducted.

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

Push-pull: The footage, captured by Dr Guy Levy, reveals how each arm moves the animal in a particular direction
Push-pull: The footage, captured by Dr Guy Levy, reveals how each arm moves the animal in a particular direction
Video